A No Labels plea
December 13th, 2011
05:28 PM ET
3 years ago

A No Labels plea

(CNN) - Start with "No Budget, No Pay!" That's the first recommendation of a group looking to get Congress to be more productive and collegial.

It means if Capitol Hill legislators cannot work out a complete budget on time - something that has not been done in years - they should not get paid. That radical notion is the first of a dozen suggestions from No Labels, a bipartisan grassroots organization started a year ago.


Political Notebook: CNN’s Bob Costantini discusses the 2012 presidential campaign with host of CNN's "The Situation Room" Wolf Blitzer.

On Tuesday, those recommendations were delivered to Congress inside the Cannon House Office Building's Caucus Room, where wheeling and dealing among members is often the order.

Other ideas: make "filibusters" real, by requiring someone to actually hold forth on the Senate floor, instead of just requiring 60 votes as is now the stall-inducing norm; monthly bipartisan gatherings, and taking a page out of Canadian and British parliaments by having the president up for questions, regularly.

Oh, and require members to only pledge allegiance to the flag; and not allow them to take any other pledges, such as Americans for Tax Reform's "No new taxes" promise.

"The vast majority of Americans think the political parties should be working together in Washington," Mark McKinnon, one of No Labels founders, said. Famed as an advertising and message guru for both of George W. Bush's presidential bids, McKinnon has also worked for Democrats over the years.

"We've got huge challenges and we're just trying to create a voice for the middle of America with No Labels," McKinnon added. This is not an attempt to create a third, moderate party, but to get Democrats and Republicans off their far-end-of-the-spectrum positions, McKinnon told CNN Radio.

While belonging to a party is not a bad thing in McKinnon's eyes, No Labels is an effort to get beyond the standard positions of Democrats and Republicans. The label conservative or liberal is what he'd like to banish, figuratively, so compromise is possible.

A couple hundred supporters of the idea were on hand in the caucus room. Legislators included Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana. A few Republican moderates back No Labels, including former Delaware Sen. Mike Castle.

The expectation of the group is that tens of thousands of Americans, frustrated at constant gridlock, will groundswell No Labels into a major movement that candidates will not be able to ignore next year.

Almost Contract with America-like, the group's goal they say is to implement many of the suggestions via rules changes that do not require legislation, just a certain amount of will.


Filed under: Congress • Uncategorized
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. V in Chicago

    Tell me where to sign up.

    December 13, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. cali girl

    Why yes, all of them should be fired if they don't do their job. Heck, laid off workers do more work than these lazy people. Those who are unemployed would love to get a pay check, for doing NOTHING!!!!!
    Voting is around the corner. Please all you T Baggers, remember who you voted for and do the right thing. Time to let them go.

    December 13, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Kevin Cantu

    Thumbs Up!

    December 13, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Blinded by the republucan lie

    I love it!!! They should have implemented that earlier this year...say like when they held the country hostage and caused us to be downgraded.

    December 13, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. malabar

    With morons like cali girl on both sides of the aisle, no labels will never gain any traction. the loudest clowns drown out the rest, and if there is 1 honest bone in ur body, u knw both sides have them. hate rules in d.c. just like on this ticker, just read on

    December 13, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. John

    That the way It should be. Where do I sign up.

    December 13, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. willie floyd

    Great idea!!! Good question-where and when can we sign up??? I'm retired and I probably work harder in my home and yard than they do in a month.
    I only hope those who stayed home in the mid-term elections have learned a valuable lesson. What we now have in congress was voted in and that's the only way to get them out.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    December 13, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    No kidding...if some 70+ year old corporate plutocrat puppet is going to filibuster everything and anything that could possibly help the middle-class solely because it might require a little tax increase on the insanely rich, then the dude should have to stand there in front of the CSPAN cameras wearing manpampers reading the freekin dictionary out loud to an empty Senate chamber. Let's see how often the GOP abuses the filibuster then...how many records they still set for using it. What's the matter GOPers? Don't you have enough courage of conviction to crap yourself on national television?

    December 13, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Food stamps for billionaires.

    Members of congress should be drug tested. It is impossible to think that elected republicans could conduct themselves with no concern for Americans unless they are high all the time.

    December 13, 2011 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. Richard in Houston

    Sound start. Love the concept.

    December 13, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  11. Ms. J

    Do it! If they think is cool to be broke and have no money lets make them not get 1 cent unless they pass legislature that will improve the economy for the American people.

    December 13, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  12. diridi

    boot all congress out...

    December 13, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  13. JustAO

    "The vast majority of Americans think the political parties should be working together in Washington," Mark McKinnon, one of No Labels founders, said.

    I say the vast majority of Ameicans should put America ahead of party affiliation. The whole reason for party affiliations is to divide and conquer so that the few who came up with idiotic two party system can make laws to benefit them and have the whole cake while the rest of us argue like children over which candles on the cake to use.

    This notion that we must be ultra conservative or ultra liberal is bs. Either we believe in compromise for greater good or we believe that every man for themself. I for one believe in compromise for the greater good.

    Independent voters 2012!!!!

    December 13, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. Sandra

    Amen! Cut off their paychecks and their federal benefits. They should face retirement options just like the rest of us 'normal Americans'. You don't hear them talking about cutting off their pensions ever!

    December 13, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  15. GonzoinHouston

    How about this for a limit on filibusters: Track how many are invoked over the previous 12 months. Up to 40 filibusters you need 60 votes to break it. 40-50 require 59 votes, 50-60 require 58 votes, etc. If they run over 140 or more in the past year there are no filibusters. Republicans, incidentally, have invoked over 140 filibusters in the past 12 months. Over the 89 years before the current GOP senate minority the average was less than 3 per year.

    December 13, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  16. Teena

    Or how about they use the same health care system as the rest of us, Or, they don't get a salary or life one they have held office. Maybe the no labels group can get lobbyists out of the ears of our representative.
    Good luck- but you are fighting the tide of BIG money!

    December 13, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. Keith in Austin

    Wow! Why didn't Liberal Democrats support a program like this when they had a stranglehold on BOTH Houses of Congress during Obama's first 24 months as President? Why haven't Democrats delivered a Federal Budget for nearly 3 YEARS now? Seems to me and a lot of Americans that during the Obama/Democrat "imbalance of power" they spent us into oblivion! Stick that "label" where EVERYONE can see it because it's vividly TRUE!!!

    December 13, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. PDXGuy

    Great start, the pledge issue is big. They should also not be immune from insider trading rules and be required to use the healthcare plans they devise.

    December 13, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. urthat

    Very appropriate. I would go further. No budget not only implies no pay but no travel and all assets frozen. Congressmen would be held hostage in their chambers with only bathroom trips and a diet of Uncle Ben's white rice and fish-heads and tap water until the budget was passed.

    December 13, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. lost mind

    Too bad we cannot find a few good people like Congressman Charles Bennett served for years and never once accepted a paycheck.

    December 13, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  21. Tex Fandango

    On the surface, the notion of not paying Congress should it not pass a budget is appealing. In reality, however, it's just a bit of populist theatrics. The fact of the matter is that most of our members of Congress are rich and can easily afford to take the financial hit. Why? Not for the reason most people think, but because we pay Congress too little. Think about it: We want the best, the brightest, the most successful to help run our country. We want them to leave mid-career and serve in government, requiring two homes and the associated expense. And what do we offer them in return? A salary adjusted for expenses that is well below what they could earn at a top university, corporation, or association. And when their tenure is over, they would have to compete with others who never took a break in their careers. So who do we get instead? Millionaires who can afford the cost; lawyers whose firms hire them back on their return; and crooks who pad their salaries through graft and corruption. Pay Congress an attractive wage and we might just get what we need: The best and brightest American can offer.

    December 13, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  22. Kelly

    nolabels.org
    The recommendations are posted. You can sign electronically your approval and there is even a mechanism to send the recommendations to your representatives in your area. Takes about 5 minutes, and the organization needs everyone's support.

    December 13, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  23. Grant

    Term limits of 6 years, No work-No Pay, close loopholes in the tax code or Flat tax on wages and corps with NO deductions... ( If you have 5-6-9 kids and cant feed them, keep your pants on.).
    Sell off the military bases all over the world and bring our young people home.
    What part of "illegal alien" do you not understand. Deal with them by the laws of their own country.
    And several hundred more....................

    December 13, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  24. ARMYCSM

    two words. Terms Limits. These people are so partisan that they put our country in harms way. They must learn to work together of find a new scam. Let's give them hell democrats, republicans, and independent. time is up for this do-nothing congress!!

    December 13, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  25. republicans for the win

    I think this plan is great............ if the democrats would get of there glutes and actually worked this would work out fine

    December 13, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
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